Monday, November 30, 2009

On tattered reputations

George Monbiot's scathing criticism of the Harper Cons' role in undermining global climate talks is definitely worth a read in its entirety. But to the extent there's a portion particularly worth highlighting, the description of the Cons' actions on the international stage manages to stand out:
After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007, it singlehandedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008, it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country that had done most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world's 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th. Canada came 59th.

In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by his bullying. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government battled for hours (and eventually won) against Canada's obstructions. A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth.
In Copenhagen next week, this country will do everything in its power to wreck the talks. The rest of the world must do everything in its power to stop it. But such is the fragile nature of climate agreements that one rich nation – especially a member of the G8, the Commonwealth and the Kyoto group of industrialised countries – could scupper the treaty. Canada now threatens the wellbeing of the world.
Of course, it's worth noting that while the piece rightly focuses on the government which is currently standing in the way of global efforts, it's worth noting that a good chunk of Monbiot's criticism can be applied to another party besides the Cons:
The purpose of Canada's assault on the international talks is to protect this industry. This is not a poor nation. It does not depend for its economic survival on exploiting this resource. But the tar barons of Alberta have been able to hold the whole country to ransom. They have captured Canada's politics and are turning this lovely country into a cruel and thuggish place.
Needless to say, this would seem an ideal time for a reminder that Stephen Harper isn't the only federal leader who's tried to back increased tar sands development as a matter of "national unity". And that - combined with the Libs' own track record of increased emissions which Monbiot also points out - leaves awfully little reason to think the Libs are any less "captured" than the government which Monbiot rightly excoriates.

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